Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quarterly Reading Update - 1st Quarter, 2009

Just for my own curiosity, I've decided to track my reading quarterly, listing the books I've read, and total number of pages. This list will only include full novels, no comics, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc...

Since January 1st, I've read 20 novels, and I'm on page 91 of my 21st. That's more than I would have thought... that's a book every 4.28 days.... Pretty surprising!

Page Count - 7722 pages, not counting Spider Legs, the one I'm currently reading. Wow, that's an average of 85.8 pages a day.... Obviously, I've been doing a lot of reading because the weather has been horrid, and our house is entirely packed, so there's not much else to do. It should be interesting to see how those things changing will affect my next quarter's totals.

The List:

1st Quarter, 2009:

Sahara by Clive Cussler

The Loch by Steve Alten

Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

A Bad Spell In Yurt by C. Dale Brittain

Extreme Odds by Rick Hanson

Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson

Hocus Croakus by Mary Daheim

The Wood Nymph and the Cranky Saint by C. Dale Brittain

FreeFall by Robert Crais

The Alligator's Farewell by Hialiah Jackson

Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin

Invisible Prey by John Sanford

Drowned Night by Chris Blaine

The Closers by Michael Connelly

A Year At The Movies by Kevin Murphy

Chillwater Cove by Thomas Lakeman

The Navigator by Clive Cussler

Hunt With The Hounds by Mignon G Eberhart

Touched By The Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Spider Legs by Piers Anthony & Clifford Pickover (In Progress)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review - HUNT WITH THE HOUNDS by Mignon G. Eberhart

Hunt With The Hounds by Mignon G. Eberhart
1950, 192 pages

What a treat this slim novel turned out to be! I've always been a fan of classic mystery novels, at least the design and covers, but I don't know that I've ever really read one. A couple of months ago, we stumbled across a few at the thrift store and falling in love with the covers, Hunt With The Hounds in particular, I snatched them up, determined to read them. I started Hunt that day, but only made it a page in before heading for something else. Turns out, detective novels were written a bit differently back in those days. Finally, last week, I dove back in, determined to read the whole book. It's a short one, only 192 pages, but the writing style is very different from modern novels. Take the first 3 paragraphs of the book:

There had been, as Ruby said later, no other kill that day. That was Wednesday, the ninth of October, an unseasonably cold and rainy day, the day of the Dobberly Meet, the day Ernestine was murdered. She was murdered about twilight with the shadows of fog and coming night blurring trees and shrubbery together in an amorphous mass that seemed to advance and watch and then retreat, like unwilling witnesses who would not come forward.

It had not been a good hunting day; a small grey fox had eventually given them a thirty-minute run and gone to earth on the far side of Hollow Hill; so Ruby had been characteristically literal and accurate.

The day Jed Baily's trial ended was much the same kind of day, except it was in the spring, in March. There was Red Bud and White Dogwood along the misty blue hills, and the meadows we vividly green; it was, however, again unseasonably cold and rainy. By chance it was again the day of the Dobberly Meet but probably in its many years of existence had that particular meet had so sparse a field. The trial took place at the Bedford county courthouse; it was a narrow, cramped white clapboard building with a clock tower.

Great stuff, but hard to read at first. I write with a lot of commas, often in inappropriate places, but this book put me to shame. It tells the story of a small but affluent Virginia community, scandalized by the murder of one of their own. Ernestine, the lovely wife of Jed Baily had been killed, shot in the back in her home. It opens with her circle of friends awaiting the verdict of the trial of her husband Jed, and with an innocent verdict, aided by the testimony of Ernestine's dear friend Sue, who was also in love with Jed, the focus of the investigation turns to the other members of the close knit circle of friends. My favorite part of the book was that you never really knew who did it. I changed my opinion a couple of times throughout, and you were never really sure whether the friends were telling the truth or covering for each other. There are love triangles, twisty fox chases, opulent mansions, bumbling police, more dead bodies pop up, and a lot happens in a book so short.

I loved the time frame this book takes place in, with it's old school automobiles, fox hunts, attitudes about love and marriages. There's also some sort of intangible thrill from holding an old book of this sort, a kind of trashy paperback time machine, that makes me imagine a far classier time, when people wore vests and hats, and getting shot in the conservatory was as natural a location for murder as the library, rather than an alley or office building. Mignon D Eberhart, the "Mistress Of Mystery" wrote 59 novels between 1929 and 1988, and at her peak, sold more than Agatha Christie. Should be fun to track more of her work down.


Next - Touched By The Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Looking to the near future...

Ahh, March. When it first began, I posted a sincere hope that March would be a better month than the cold hearted and deplorable February was. It certainly was, though not to any level that I would call exciting. While most of this will be described in detail as I reach it in the story, March was the month we took a couple of last ditch attempts, failed at those, and began to look towards the future plans.

We still have a few options floating around, we have Realtors both at home and in Washington looking into a couple of things, but essentially, as of this writing, our dreams are in a holding pattern for the next 12-24 months. Naturally, if things were to suddenly swing our way, and solid, good news arrived, we would immediately dive back in, but for the time being, we need a break.

For the last year solid, Lindsay and I have breathed, ate, slept, and worked Motels. In the process, we've learned a lot, and it has been fun, in a special kind of soul sucking way, but it has been a lot of work, and endlessly stressful. I haven't drawn or sculpted anything substantial in the time we've been working on it, and Lindsay's writing had slowed to a halt. After our most recent, and most complete failure, we have decided to take a break. Apart from the few little possibilities we're looking into, for the next year or two, we are going to concentrate on living our lives to the fullest, and preparing to dive back into the search after we are in a slightly better place. We plan to pay off some debt, build a larger down payment, work in our yard, draw, paint, write, play, and generally try and get our minds back to a good place. Right now, we're so frazzled and burnt out by the process that we've found ourselves short tempered and less considerate about some things in our lives. That isn't us, and we have no intention of letting a few bad experiences turn us bitter, so as hard as it is, we've decided to stop and re-combobulate.

It could be fun. We've never really experienced a lot that Pocatello and the area has to offer, and we plan to change that. We're going to eat at every restaurant, climb every trail, and explore the city we grew up in, and at the same time, we both plan to work on secondary incomes to build up a better down payment for our next attempt. We both plan to work on books; Lindsay a historical fiction, I'll either write a mystery, or a zombie survival novel... we'll see. I also plan to start a full website for my sculptures and artwork, painting more and expanding my commissions. Next week, we're taking a week off, and heading to the coast again, but this time strictly for leisure. We're going to walk on the beach, read books, camp in the back of Strontium and not do anything related to Motel running. (In theory. Whether we'll be able to avoid it is another matter entirely....) It should be fun. When we get back, we'll start unpacking our entire house again, Lindsay's going to start looking for a better paying job that utilizes her degree, and we're going to try and make a fresh start in the same place we've been the whole time.

Naturally, there's a lot of downsides to this, my mom and brother were going to live in this house when we moved, so now they're out of a place to live, and we've spent a lot of time and money chasing phantoms for the last year and every once in a while we both get pretty nostalgic and depressed about what we've lost so far, but we hope to stay upbeat and happy about what we do have.

When we're ready, we'll sell the house, hopefully at a profit, and start in again, a little more skeptical, but every bit as determined.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are movie teaser

This Trailer for the new movie, Where The Wild Things Are, blew my mind! I loved the book, by Maurice Sendak, as a kid and now that there's a movie being directed by the visionary genius Spike Jonze, and with creature effects by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, how can this be anything but spectacular? The movie was delayed for a while, in fact the first teaser photos were released years ago, but from the looks of things, they got it right. It looks like the pages of the book come to life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

House For Sale Part IV

So, we put our house on the market. Knowing a house will sell better if it's well decorated, clean and friendly, we bought a few decorations, took down some of the less inviting ones, like my African masks and big screen TV, and Cleaned Everything. Lindsay's parents, Rich and Sue were an especially great help here, coming over on the weekends to help paint the porch, weed the yard and clean in the house. When we were finally finished, and Jared was meeting with us to take the photos, all we had left was keeping it clean. We had a plan. We were going to move ourselves, the cats and dogs to Linz's parent's basement, where they had a basement apartment that they had reclaimed for their own. We thought this would be perfect, the potential buyers could see our house at any time, without having to worry about us or the pets, and the house would stay clean and tidy.

This plan didn't really work out. Since taking back over the basement, her parents had re-decorated, and added some new furniture and a nice flat screen, turning it into a sanctuary of sorts, and though they made every effort to make it work, it was pretty clear from the first night that the plan would not work. Between our odd hours we keep and our quiet, but big and clumsy dogs, it was a problem waiting to happen. So, a day or two later, we headed back home, devising an elaborate system for dealing with kenneling the dogs and cats while we were gone based around whether people might come by.

We really didn't need to bother. From when our house was listed, on October 16th, to when we finally gave up on January 27th, we had 3 viewings. Our timing was utterly horrid, placing it on the market just a few days before the Real Estate market took a dramatic turn for the even worse. That said, it was still a valuable experience, both the prepping and the sellling process, and we think things will go a lot smoother the next time.

In the meantime, we continued looking into B&B prospects in the Pocatello area...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book Review - THE NAVIGATOR by Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos

THE NAVIGATOR (A Kurt Austin Adventure) by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos
2007, 448 pages
Last time I read a Clive Cussler book, I was pretty underwhelmed, but at the time, I was in the middle of a pretty stressful period in our Motel hunt, and I didn't really enjoy a few of the aspects of the story. The most recent, The Navigator by Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, is a much more recent novel, Cussler has written something like 2 dozen books since Sahara, and maybe that's why I liked this book better. Or it could be the co-author, or maybe I was just in a better mindset and could enjoy a cheesy worldwide adventure story. At any rate, The Navigator was a lot of fun. It tells the story of a Phoenician Captain, A couple of NUMA agents, Thomas Jefferson, a stolen antiquities recoverer, a Librarian, a Millionaire Ren-Faire player, Merriweather Lewis, Artichokes, Gold Mines, The Ten Commandments and more! Exciting, isn't it!

In all seriousness, I really got a kick out of The Navigator. The authors did a great job at keeping things moving, and creating a pretty good sized cast of characters constantly moving towards a little too pat and easy, but mostly satisfying conclusion.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Review - CHILLWATER COVE by Thomas Lakeman

Chillwater Cove by Thomas Lakeman
2007, 379 pages

It seems like there are 3 ways to write a book; Meticulously planned and plotted, with every twist and turn of the story anylized and thought out, Creating a story idea, a world and characters, and letting the writing dictate how the story ends, and creating a clear beginning and end and letting the middle tell itself. I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure Lakeman used the third method for writing Chillwater Cove. The beginning starts very strongly, with FBI Agent Peggy Weaver in the nitty gritty of a trafficking bust that goes suddenly and horribly awry, and in the aftermath, she stumbles across some pictures. Of her dear friend that was abducted and abused when they were children. This was a great way to lead into the story, and I was looking forward to what came from it. Unfortunately, once she returned home to Tennesee to talk to Samantha, her friend, about it, things start to meander pretty badly, and I lost interest quickly.

Her father is the sherrif of a small college town, still set in their racist and hateful ways, and he and Peggy have a troubled relationship that never quite rings true in the book, it always feels more like silly squabbling, rather than a deepset, long lasting problem. As Peggy investigates the nature of her friend's abduction, things get more complicated, throwing in Melungeons, dirty cops, racist spartan societies, conspiracies, land schemes, horse breeding and artificial women.... essentially, it gets muddled pretty quickly, and Lakeman seems to have trouble keeping some of this straight, there are plots that end too easily, others that drag on for too long, and some that never materialize when they should have.

However, just at the end, when you think everything should be wrapping up, yet you find yourself looking at the surprising number of pages still left, it gets good again, and the story takes on a faster pace and tighter plotting. It still seemed to leave a few plots dangling, and certain things seemed a little over the top, but Chillwater Cove manages to pull it out in the end, and becomes a pretty enjoyable book.


Now Reading - Hunt With The Hounds by Mignon G. Eberhart

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review - A YEAR AT THE MOVIES by Kevin Murphy

2002, 362 pages

I love this book. I bought it back in 2002, just before a trip, and it's one of those books that I go back and read every year or so, because it makes me love movies again. I was a manager at a local theater for a few years, and there were aspects of that job that I will forever look back on fondly, from the days in the projection booth assembling the films, to late night screenings, to exploring the odd little booths and machinery in the place. Apart from the slovenly customers and dozen 16 year olds I was in charge of, it was a job that I could have done for the rest of my life. There can be something magical about the world of movies, beyond the flicks themselves, and spending that much time around them helps drive that home.

Kevin Murphy was one of the founding members of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and made a pledge for this book to watch a movie every day for a year. Naturally, rather than hitting his local multiplex every day, he traveled the globe, watching films in festivals, igloos, sheets tied between trees, anywhere he could. Along the way, he ruminates about why we love the movies, both the films and the experience. He works in a theater, brings his own film for exhibitions, smuggles in a full Thanksgiving dinner, and sees the same crappy blockbuster movies over and over.... for SCIENCE! I love his writing, he seems both cynical and jaded and madly in love with cinema at the same time, and has perfect justification for both. His mission started on January 1st, 2001 and as I re-read the book, it was kind of a kick to read about which movies he saw and remember how many middling flicks came out in 2001. Corky Romano, Pearl Harbor, What Women Want, Scary Movie 2, Cat & Dogs, Tomb Raider, Pootie Tang..... What a collection! I absolutely loved that he went out of his way to visit independent single screen theaters, and found mini theaters in bars, and still gave the giant IMAX and multiplexes an equal billing, experiencing all aspects of the biz.

A Year At The Movies always makes me want to rush off immediately and work for a theater again, to feel the frames slide through my white cotton gloves as I look for the spliced section, and watch the flickering screen through the little window in the projection booth, see people react as one, in a giant wave of laughter or fear. Excellent.


Now Reading - Chillwater Cove by Thomas Lakeman

Sunday, March 15, 2009

House For Sale Part III

Having decided that the best way to get enough money to buy a motel, we started making some improvements to our house. We spoke to our Realtor, and he suggested a few things, but said that overall, we were on the right track. In a way, at this point I feel we made a mistake. Rather than doing what we could, we started charging some of the improvements to our credit card, justifying it by planning to pay it off completely upon selling. We also talked to Jared, concerned about the timing of placing the house for sale, as it was early summer when we started, and typically the time houses are placed up for sale. We still had a lot of work we wanted to get done before putting it on the market, and we were worried about the time of year it would be put on during. He told us not to worry, that there was a second boom of house buying, typically around Aug-Nov, when people are done with summer vacations, and are ready to start thinking about where they'll live for the coming winter and new year.

We thought that sounded about perfect, and started in on the improvements. Our first step was pulling up the old linoleum in the Laundry Room, something that Ludo had helpfully started as a puppy with his teeth, and replacing it with industrial strength garage paint, in a nice gunmetal grey, and painting the walls. At the same time, we started re-painting the Craft Room, and trying to find paint matches for the other rooms in the house that we didn't plan to re-paint completely. The Library and Theatre Room were easy, we'd saved the color codes and names for each, and merely had to grab a couple of quarts, but the other rooms in the house were tricky. We hadn't repainted them, as the owners had clearly just re-painted before we bought the house, and we liked the colors a lot. Of course, the few paint cans they left laying around when we bought the house belonged to other parts of the house, so we had to resort to carefully picking away at a section of paint to get enough for a sample, and even then, they didn't match quite right. Next time, we'll just re-paint the whole bloody thing.

We also refinished the bedroom floor, painted the porch, filled the holes where once hung my collection of masks, and started thinking about the two bigger projects, the bloody bathroom and the ugly kitchen.

After fiddling with the bathroom colors a bit in Photoshop, we decided that the best thing would be to re-paint the white trim, choose a nice almond color to match the gold fixtures and sink, and use a light pink color for the top, that would also go with the rose flooring we chose. While it wasn't a large project, we did learn a few valuable tips about painting trim, and working in tiny rooms.... Laying flooring in a small room like that was especially time consuming compared to what I'd thought it would be.

The kitchen was a lot more fun. We pulled up all of the ugly old linoleum, and carefully cleaned the floors, replacing it with higher quality vinyl tiles (We thought about real tile, but decided we wouldn't get enough out of them for the expense) and while my mom scoured the dollar shops looking for some decent "Fat Chef" decor to match the curtains that had been hanging since we moved in, we also repainted some of the room, added some trim and baseboard and put drawer pulls on. The difference was pretty dramatic!

(Masked Serial Killer not included)

We were quite happy, and after a few more changes and touch ups, we were ready to put the house on the market! If only we knew what would happen at about the same time....

Book Review - THE CLOSERS by Michael Connelly

2005, 447 pages

Up until recently, I'd never read anything by Michael Connelly, though when I picked up the first book of his I read, The Lincoln Lawyer, I got the feeling that I'd heard his name before somewhere. Turned out, he is a respected writer of mystery and thrillers, and I enjoyed his style quite a bit.

The Closers features his most well known detective, Harry Bosch, returning to the force after a few years in retirement. He joins the Open/Unsolved force, and begins picking at long healed wounds, attempting to use a bit of DNA on an old case to uncover the fate of a long dead girl, stolen from her home and killed on the hills beyond. As he struggles to follow cold leads, Harry and his partner uncover something darker, a conspiracy that leaves the detectives unsure who to trust, and whether the truth is worth exposing.

I really enjoyed The Closers. It was tightly plotted, and while some of the twists were apparent, there were enough left that you kept turning the pages. Harry Bosch is a great character, full of quirks and attitude, and someone you would want on your case. I really liked the secondary characters in this story, the mother, who has left her daughter's room untouched for 17 years, was especially moving to me, her grief and hope that some day, her baby's killer would be found.


Next - A Year At The Movies by Kevin Murphy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

House For Sale Part II

Reading back over the last post, I realized that I got a bit off topic, considering it was meant to be a post about our recent work on the house, and I started it with a story about a car wreck from years ago....

Oh well, it'll get there eventually. Besides, I think everyone needs an image of a hot pocket and change flying around the cabin of a car as glass shatters around it.
The Theater Room, decorated in the previous owner's dead things.

Our house, which oddly, I just realized I never really called a "Home" when referring to it, was in pretty good shape, it just had a few little things that needed done to make it ours. Both of the basement bedrooms were painted for kids, one with purple and yellow handprints all over the wall, and one in bright blue and red colors (It was Spider-Man's room according to the sign on it when we viewed the house...) and the basement family room, soon to be our Theatre room, was a plain white.
The Library room, before painting.

We re-painted the handprint room, choosing a nice neutral warm brownish tan, with a brick red trim that we then turned into our oriental themed Library.
The Library, shortly after painting, still cluttered with moving crud.

We re-painted the Theatre room a cool blue-grey, and then, we decided to hold off for a while and get moved in before Lindsay had to take off for school in Missoula. Somehow after that, apart from a few little upgrades, things kind of just stayed as they were. We left the Spider-Man room, now Linz's Craft Room red and blue, and we left the bathroom painted in a dark whorish red, despite us both hating it, and thinking it made the bathroom far too tiny feeling.
The Spider-Man Room, before we moved in.

I'm not sure why we stopped working on the improvements we had planned, I think we just kind of became comfortable and complacent. Got a couple of cats, and 2 big dogs, planted a garden that was easily devoured by the voracious evil weeds we had in the back garden area....

Eventually, we decided that we wanted to buy and run a motel. Ideally, the best way to dive into that would be to sell our house at a profit, and use the proceeds to dive in. To that end, we started a list, walking off each room and writing down any changes, improvements and work that needed done. It was a long list. It's truly amazing how little things pile up over the months, we found a page or two of things that needed done in every room, from simple things like filling some nail holes, to completely ripping out the kitchen floor and replacing the ugly scarred pink linoleum with something that didn't invoke horror.
Ludo, chilling on the scarred up kitchen floor.

It was going to be a lot of work....

Book Review - DROWNED NIGHT by Chris Blaine

DROWNED NIGHT by Chris Blaine
2005, 324 pages

What a fun, odd, little series of books this is. The novels of the Abbadon Inn, are, as best I can tell from only reading this one, and looking up the others online, are a group of unconnected novels, each revolving around the mysterious and imposing Abbadon Inn located in Cape May, off of the Atlantic. Drowned Night tells of a family, come to run the Inn as temps, who hoped to put their troubles to rest and escape to the beach a bit. Unfortunately, there is a dark presence tied to the Inn and it's past. Chris Blaine (Nee Elizabeth Massie) weaves an interesting story, as ghosts, an evil presence, some horrible beast and creepy locals blend together to make the poor family's summer a bit more than they anticipated! I liked this book. At first, I kept wishing the author would make up their mind about what kind of book it was, whether ghost story, supernatural Horror or Monster Massacre, but in the end, its all tied together pretty well, and there's some great atmosphere and ideas in the book.

I love the Inn, naturally, as it's a gorgeous old Victorian Mansion, and while I kept picturing it taking place in the Pacific Northwest, rather than off of the Atlantic, I think that was more my own stubborn mind than anything. While I don't think the story totally worked (The evil creature/ghost/presence was never really explained...) I'm intrigued to track the other 2 books down and see how they fit in the mythology.


Next - The Closers by Michael Connelly

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

House For Sale Part I

About 4 years ago, while I was heading to my graveyard shift down Reserve Road in Missoula, I stopped at a light. I was eating a hot pocket and as I lifted it to my mouth to take a bite, I looked in my rear view mirror in time to see a red sports car slam into the back of my Honda Element. It turned out that the driver, a young girl, had been bent over in her seat, trying to reach her cell phone that she'd dropped, and hit me going over 50MPH, never touching the brakes. She hit hard enough to push me into 4 vehicles ahead of me. Amazingly, I walked away shaken, covered in pepperoni, and with some gnarly bumps on my calves where they'd kicked up into the dash, but otherwise safe. My Element was totalled. When she hit, she hit hard enough to bend the frame of the car, buckling it up into my seat, breaking it, and forcing it to recline. She crushed over a foot in the back and roughly 8 inches in the front of my car, and shattered all of the windows. Somehow, when she struck me, the change I had in a pocket by the steering wheel flew up and back towards me, then up and forward to land on the dash. Surprisingly, my airbag never deployed. Quite frankly, to this day, I'm amazed I walked away from the accident, and will forever trust in Honda Element's ability to protect me. The lady in front of me was hurt badly, and ended up in the emergency room overnight, the girl that hit us, miraculously only hurt her index finger. Looking at her car, she should have been dead. Luckily, she happened to sit up right before she hit me, so the airbag helped her. When I had my wife call my work to let them know I wouldn't be in that night, the Store Manager told me I had to be there, and couldn't call off. This was one of many reasons we had to get far enough away from that store that she couldn't follow me on her broom.

At any rate, the accident gave us a little bit of money, that we decided would be best spent on a home, rather than a new car, Lindsay was going to be heading back to Missoula for school and wouldn't need her car, so we bought a house in Pocatello, and I drove the Avocado Dreamboat until about a year ago, when we needed to buy a new Element.

We got into a house at a good time, rates were decent, and they were approving pretty much anyone. We qualified for a $225,000 house, but set our own limit of $100k, so that payments would be reasonable. We got together with our very dear friend and advisor Gordon Wilks, owner of Gate City Realty, and father to our current Realtor, Jared, and he agreed to help us find a place. At the time, while we looked, we were living in the attic bedroom in the In-Law's house, a far from ideal situation, so we were pretty anxious to get out of there. However, we took our time finding the right place, partially because we loved looking at houses! It was great fun to head out with Gordon, and see what he would recommend. He has a great sense of humor, and was really good at spotting what we liked about places (Sunrooms, big basements, fenced yards, lots of space...) and narrowing the field to eliminate things we didn't (Low ceilings, bad neighborhoods, houses that were 3/4 garage, frosting cups labeled "Spit" in marker...) After about a week, we found a place we really liked, and put in a bid. Unfortunately, someone else did too, and we lost. We muscled on, and kept looking, going out on our days off with him, and searching the Internet the rest of the time.

One day, we were cruising around the West side of Pocatello, looking at a friend's place that she was selling, and we drove past a road called Rosewood Avenue. Lindsay commented on how much she liked the name, and how she'd like to live on a street with a pretty name. Less than 5 minutes later, Gordon calls us, and tells us to meet him on the corner of Rosewood and Foothill, where a house was just listed for sale! We looked at the place, a 3 bedroom on the corner, and liked it a lot. It had a big fenced yard, a nice family room, and a big kitchen. We told Gordon that we liked it enough to bid on it, and we managed to beat everyone else in. We finally owned our own house!

Of course, there was a lot of work to do....

Book Review - INVISIBLE PREY by John Sandford

INVISIBLE PREY by John Sandford
2007, 384 pages

Despite having something like two dozen books, I'd never read anything by John Sandford, but picked up Invisible Prey the other night, and found it an enjoyable read. It's the fourteenth to feature detective Lucas Davenport, but I found the back story of the characters easy enough to follow without knowing anything about them before page one, a good trait in a book like this.

The plot follows Davenport as he works two cases, the accused statutory rape of a girl by a senator, and a seemingly unconnected chain of murders. I enjoyed Davenport's attitude, he's very laid back but tenacious, and a good detective, and
Sandford writes in an easy to read, noir style prose. Not quite Lee Child short. But short sentences. The storylines meshed together well, and the ending hit at a nice pace, without ever really feeling forced or cut short like a lot of thrillers. I'll have to keep an eye out for more.


Next - Drowned Night by Chris Blaine

Saturday, March 7, 2009


An FYI for the 4 people that read this...

As of Thursday night, it looks like I'm back on the Graveyard shift rotation at work for the forseeable future, (Unless we can manage to get our motel, of course...) which means a wee bit more money, darker bags under my eyes, and some seriously confused dogs, who find it their duty to protect Lindsay at night, and as a side effect, keep her up all night...

With that in mind, it's likely that this blog will be updated heavily every other week, with lean updates while I'm on shift.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review - LOST LAKE by Phillip Margolin

Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin
2006, 452pgs

In 1985, a congressman is brutally tortured and murdered in the summer home of a powerful general. His daughter was in the home as well, and tells the officer that responds to her screams that he was killed by a man named Carl Rice, her ex-lover, a member of the non-existent Unit, a top team of assassins and soldiers. Carl Rice disappears somewhere along the shores of Lost Lake....

Twenty years later, struggling artist and attorney, Ami Vergano's new lodger, a transient furniture maker that calls himself Ryan Morelli loses control at her sons little league game in Portland Oregon. Two men are injured, and Morelli is shot. Soon, Ami finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue that includes a top secret organization that may not be real, a delusional newspaper writer, whose father is a powerful general and may just be the next president.

Lost Lake was a pretty good story. I really felt that most of the characters were believable, and Margolin knows how to describe a scene with just enough detail for you to picture it, but not so much that you get bored reading details. Although you know from the beginning, he still does a good job at keeping the suspense going in regards to the Unit, whether it exists, and who Ami can trust. Pretty fun stuff.


On a side note, I think the wording on the cover blurb is kind of amusing.... so he wrote Gone, but did not write Forgotten?

Now Reading - Drowned Night by Chris Blaine

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Review - THE ALLIGATOR'S FAREWELL by Hialeah Jackson

The Alligator's Farewell by Hialeah Jackson
1999, 360 pages

Sometimes, one thing about a book bothers me from the get-go, and I have trouble removing myself from that, and the Alligator's Farewell was one of them. The premise is intriguing, a man working in a nuclear research lab dies, and the body is horribly irradiated, and the head of the security firm is trying to determine how he died, and why. Unfortunately, the assistant rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning, Dave was too over the top and silly, wearing women's shoes, and acting both flamboyantly gay, and super macho depending on what was called for. The authors name also annoyed me, as her real name is Polly Whitney, and she has chosen such an improbable name for some reason. Maybe there's a great explanation, but having that outlined on the back cover, it just had me wondering the whole time I read it, why she chose that pseudonym. In fact, it was probably a more engrossing mystery than the actual book. The main character was creative, as she's a sexy knockout who's also deaf, but it seemed like a gimmick that really only affected her when it needed to for the story, otherwise she could read lips just fine, and somehow drove at breakneck speeds while Dave signed conversations with her....

Typically, a book takes me a couple of days to read. I started this one on the 2nd of February, and didn't finish it until the 23rd... Now, we were pretty distracted at the time, but that's still a pretty long time to slog through it.


Next - Lost Lake, by Phillip Margolin

P.S. This was written while under the influence of a brewing migraine, so it may be more scattered than usual.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Dream On The Verge

This is a difficult post to write.

After 4 months of intense discussion, excitement, frustration and hope, the motel we have been attempting to enter into a Lease To Own agreement with has fallen through. While I will undoubtedly go into more depth when I reach the motel in the stories, ideally after I've had some time to separate myself from the emotion, the short story is that he wanted more money than we had to give, and we started to have some real doubts about the stability of the property, both the buildings themselves, and the owner.

It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but we reached a point where we could see that more time discussing it would only be delaying the inevitable, and make ending it harder for us. This motel was the only one we contacted, out of 20 that was willing to consider a deal with the amount of money we had to offer.

Of course, we're nothing if not persistent, and we are determined to run a motel. It's our dream, and we are confident that we could excel at it in ways never imagined. Between our artistic ability, dedication and friendliness, all we need is a chance. There is one other property we are looking into. It's smaller, and less than half the price of the other, and after a lot of reflection, we've decided that not only are the buildings in better shape, but we like the area well enough to try for it. The problem is that the owners aren't interested in a Lease To Own, or other owner oriented plans, essentially, they want to get the money and forget about the property.
Throughout this entire process, Lindsay and I have been explicit in wishing to do this ourselves, relying on help only in a moral support capacity, but we have come to the conclusion that we need help if we're to achieve our dreams. We are currently looking into lenders, SBA, Government-assisted loans, hard money people and every other conventional methods we can, but we have come to the conclusion that if we are to find the 20% we need to secure a loan, we are going to have to ask people for assistance.

If any of you, my friends and family, know of any angels out there willing to invest in our future, at a good interest rate, please fire us off an email at avalon_ink@yahoo.com. We are hoping to find one single investor for the property, but we are willing to take on multiple investors to reach the amount we need, if we can find them.

Thank you!

Kristopher & Lindsay